October 4, 2019 at 5:58 pm #190789
It’s confusing that you’ve chosen to publish the same post in two different places here. There’s a discussion of Citizens Assemblies in the Socialist Standard Feedback section. Here I will only deal with what you claim as factual mistakes.
- 1. You claim that the article says:
“At this level, this (Citizens Assemblies) is pure reformism, calling on a capitalist government to implement some desirable measure within capitalism.” — this is wrong.
But it doesn’t. It is you who have inserted the words “Citizens Assemblies” which had not been mentioned at that point. What the article is saying is “pure reformism” is the demand mentioned in the preceeding paragraph that the aim of blocking some road was to “force the government to pay attention to the issue of climate change and take urgent and decisive action”. For confirmation, see:
2. You write: “Although this (net zero carbon emissions by 2025) does seem to offer hope amongst their doom and gloom, it doesn’t really as it’s not realisable (not even if socialism were to be established tomorrow).” – well, I suppose the author knows a better proposed date?”
Obviously, if socialism were to be established tomorrow, steps would immediately be taken to reduce carbon emissions with a view to achieving net zero emissions to as soon as possible. I was just suggesting that it would probably not be possible to achieve this by 2025, i.e in only 5 years (climate change is not the only problem facing humanity, there’s also world poverty which could be considered a greater, immediate priority). You want another date? The conventional political parties are already on to it. The government is promising 2050, the LibDems 2040, the Labour Party 2030 and the Trotskyists no doubt 2020. This is only for Britain (as is XR’s 2025 in fact) and so, even if achieved, would not make all that much difference. In fact, will probably be dropped if the rest of the world doesn’t follow suit; otherwise the competitivity of British goods on world markets would be undermined.
3. I will reply separately to your charge of “false information misrepresenting the current scientific consensus on the topic”, and on what is the reasonable position for a layperson to take in the face of conflicting scientific opinions.October 5, 2019 at 7:34 am #190794
OK, here’s my reply to your charge of “false information misrepresenting the current scientific consensus on the topic”.
You suggest as “the current scientific consensus” what you describe as “the notorious ‘Hot Earth’ article published by Harvard scientists a year ago.” I have read through this and note that it is pretty tentative and full of “coulds”, “mays”, “ifs” and “potentially” and concludes with a call for further analysis:
“Our initial analysis here needs to be underpinned by more in-depth, quantitative Earth System analysis and modeling studies to address three critical questions. (i) Is humanity at risk for pushing the system across a planetary threshold and irreversibly down a Hothouse Earth pathway? …”
Their main argument seems to be:
“We argue that there is a significant risk that these internal dynamics, especially non-linearities in feedback processes, could become an important or perhaps, even dominatant factor in steering that the Earth system actually follows over coming centuries.”
i.e. an uncontrollable runaway global heating.
You interpreted to this in message #189444 of 10 August on the Climate Change thread as meaning:
“According to the latest scientific environmental predictions, there is a good chance of runaway global heating”.
This is going beyond what the paper says. A “significant risk ” is not the same as a “good chance”. A “good chance” suggests that it is more than 50% likely to happen. A “significant risk” will be less likely than this. Others take a different view, including the IPCC according to the wikipedia entry on “Greenhouse and icehouse Earth”:
In any event, you can’t legitimately read into the paper that it is saying that 6 out of the current 7 million humans on Earth will perish or that the Earth will become uninhabitable this century as a result (the paper’s perspective is centuries, not just the remaining 80 years of this one).
That certainly is not the “current scientific consensus”. So, what is? What can a layperson reasonably conclude? I would say take the position that most scientists take, which would be that of the IPCC.
The Harvard paper calls for “building more effective stewardship of the biosphere”. Yes, that’s what’s needed but human stewardship of the biosphere cannot be effective except on the basis of the common ownership and democratic control of the Earth’s natural and industrial resources. It can never be effective under capitalism with its competitive struggle for profits and its division of the world into rival states which support this struggle.October 5, 2019 at 1:12 pm #190799
What the article is saying is “pure reformism” is the demand mentioned in the preceeding paragraph that the aim of blocking some road was to “force the government to pay attention to the issue of climate change and take urgent and decisive action”.
The demand to “force the government to pay attention” is the demand for Citizen’s Assemblies (see XR website). The way you present it does not reflect this fact. Therefore, your claim that this is reformist is factually incorrect.
I was just suggesting that it would probably not be possible to achieve this by 2025, i.e in only 5 years (climate change is not the only problem facing humanity, there’s also world poverty which could be considered a greater, immediate priority). You want another date?
I don’t want another date, it seems to be you who is not OK with this date. I am fine with demanding 2025 because it makes sense: it is very early and does not allow the government to kick the can down the road. It may be difficult to achieve, but this is not the point: we need to demand action as soon as possible, and this is what this date would require.
By the way, the XR movement is worldwide and not just in the UK, therefore the push is for most government to start acting at the same time, which again you do not write, whether on purpose or because you simply do not know. I suggest acquiring information prior to writing.
I have read through this and note that it is pretty tentative and full of “coulds”, “mays”, “ifs” and “potentially”.
Yes, scientists do not like to make sweeping statements. However, imagine a scenario: your child is playing by a precipice. It is a very deep precipice, falling off it MAY be lethal. The child is playing not too close, and there is actually little probability that they will fall down. But they COULD. What are you going to do? Keep saying that the fall is not definite? Or come and take the child away?
Now, this is not even our situation. In our situation, the child is very slowly crawling in the direction of the precipice, and unless we do something, the fall is inevitable. And you just say, Let’s not be alarmist! What an irresponsible behavior.
We are not talking about Venus here, it is enough to disrupt the climate on a much smaller scale to lead to widespread death and suffering. “While a runaway greenhouse effect on Earth is virtually impossible, there are indications that Earth could enter a <i>moist greenhouse</i> state that renders large parts of Earth uninhabitable if the climate forcing is large enough to make water vapour (H<sub>2</sub>O) a major atmospheric constituent.”
In any event, you can’t legitimately read into the paper that it is saying that 6 out of the current 7 million humans on Earth will perish.
I am not trying to do that. First of all, it’s billions, not millions. Second, it’s already 7.5. Third, climate is only half of the problem, and is only responsible for ~7% of the biodiversity loss, which is the second half of the problem. The article was just to show an example. IPCC tries to only present very solid science, and so does not include into their calculations things like methane from permafrost or melting of Antarctic ice. Therefore, their assessment of tipping points is very conservative. As scientific consensus I would take the Scientists’ Warning to Humanity. The 2nd one was released in 2017 and it has more scientist cosigners and formal supporters than any other journal article ever published. It clearly points out that we are in the middle of the 6th mass extinction which we may not survive. It says, “A damaged Nature will survive. We may not.
We must change course to avert an ecological disaster.” https://www.scientistswarning.org/
We already have 70% less insects than just half a century ago. Do you realize how important they are in the food chain? Do you know how pollinator insects are important for plants? The mass extinction crisis is a crisis of biodiversity loss, a threat to a web of life that includes our own, from our food system(s) to over 50% of pharmaceuticals in active clinical use, none of which have replaceable natural sources.
Ultimately, you may be right, it might not be 6 billion, it may just be 1 billion. In which case, it is morally admissible to say, “let’s not be alarmist, everything is alright!” – is this what you are saying? This position is morally bankrupt and you should be ashamed of yourself.October 7, 2019 at 11:28 am #190868
XR UK’s attempt to shut down central London for 2 weeks kicks off today. I predict they will lose all the sympathy they built up the last time. The media will turn against them. The police will not be so polite especially under the new hang em and flog em Home Secretary. And the general public will get fed up with their daily life being upset. It will be completely counterproductive and won’t advance their cause at all.
I don’t know what they think they are doing unless they really believe that a civil disobedience by a minority can force a government to do (a) what it doesn’t want to do and (b) what it can’t do anyway. That won’t work as they will find out to their cost.
They have made their point and pushed the problem higher up the agenda but it looks as if they are about to throw all away by pursuing a mistaken tactic based on a false theory .October 17, 2019 at 10:49 am #191074
It appears to be the case that many commuters and even some supporters of ER are questioning their tactics in respect of the London underground. This clip shows angry travelers reacting.October 17, 2019 at 11:12 am #191075
You beat me to it. I was just about to post this:
This was predictable in view of the stupid tactics adopted by XR’s leaders. They’ve probably put more people off than attracted support for their aim, coming across as arrogant, self-righteous and anti-democratic.
However, they can claim to have pressurised the government to move … an inch.October 17, 2019 at 11:42 am #191076
Interesting and revealing discussion here on ASLEF’s condemnation of XR’s action:October 17, 2019 at 2:17 pm #191077
It is not just the unions that have criticised the anti-working-class action this morning by XR elements but even the Green Party has. Here’s a tweet from Green Party MEP Alexandra Phillips (one of our opponents in the recent Euroelections in the South East region):
“Extinction Rebellion protesters obtained it so incorrect this morning:
– sure to disruption
– however not on public transport
– or focusing on working class communities
Wish they might hold the deal with politicians & the highest of huge firms & banks.”
Talk about an own goal — that could be the abiding memory of XR’s attempt to disrupt life in London for 2 weeks.November 2, 2019 at 9:47 am #191267
One of XR’s demands is being granted. A Citizens Assembly is being set up:
XR aren’t happy because it will be examining how to get to zero net carbon emissions (in the UK) by 2050 rather than 2025 and its recommendations won’t be binding on the government.
Let’s see what it comes up with — no doubt something that will have to be feasible under the profit-driven market system that is capitalism. So that rules out the common ownership of the Earth’s natural and industrial resources and their use to produce goods and services directly to satisfy people’s needs as the only framework within which the problem can be dealt with in a rational and sustainable way.November 2, 2019 at 8:26 pm #191274
Leninism and its offshoot, Maoism, as ideologies of capitalist development and growth (in common with capitalism everywhere) ruthlessly assaulted nature, exterminating life that could not be exploited for agricultural-industrial growth.
Deceived by the so-called “socialist” legacy of these ruthless movements of capitalism, some who arrive at real socialism via Leninist channels – which they consciously now repudiate on a political level – may still subconsciously retain human supremacist attitudes inherited from their former mode of thinking. But these Leninist and Maoist attitudes toward nature and other species have no place in socialism. Such “Marxist” supremacism was an ideology of capitalism, and has no place among us.November 2, 2019 at 8:55 pm #191275
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